Migrant women described being sexually abused by guards while in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a new report.
In a report published by The New York Times on Tuesday, two migrant women tell their stories of being allegedly sexually assaulted while detained in ICE facilities.
A woman identified as “Maria” described being sexually assaulted by a male guard in May shortly after she was released from the T. Don Hutto Residential Detention Center in Texas.
While her asylum case was pending, Maria said she had been permitted to stay in Washington, D.C., with her brother. She then described being escorted into a cage inside a van after gathering her belongings, where she claims she was groped by the guard.
“He grabbed my breasts … He put his hands in my pants and he touched my private parts,” Maria told the publication. “He touched me again inside the van, and my hands were tied. And he started masturbating.”
Another woman seeking asylum, identified as “E.D.,” claimed she was sexually assaulted by a male guard while she and her 3-year-old son were being held in a family detention center in Pennsylvania.
“I didn’t know how to refuse because he told me that I was going to be deported,” the 19-year-old woman said to the publication. “I was at a jail and he was a migration officer. It’s like they order you to do something and you have to do it.”
According to data obtained by the publication from the Department of Homeland Security, Maria and E.D. are just a few out of thousands of migrants who claim to have been sexually abused while in ICE custody.
Over 1,300 claims of sexual abuse against detainees have been filed about ICE between 2013 to 2017, according to the Times. Watchdog organizations estimate the reported number is significantly lower than the actual number of detainees sexually abused, the publication said.